Shaping: Clicker Training's Equally Important Sibling, and How to Use It
What is shaping?
Shaping is a training method best used alongside clicker training to teach a dog a trick in steps.
For example, to shape a shake command, you would start by clicking for the dog moving their paw at all, even if it’s just to shift their weight. Once the dog begins to perform that behavior consistently, you up the ante by waiting until the dog provides a higher paw lift, and so on. Once the dog is lifting their paw to the desired height for the shake command, you would slowly begin increasing the time between their paw being in the air and the click and treat. This is to increase the duration of the command.
Once your dog is displaying the full behavior and showing an understanding of what you’re expecting, you can begin adding a cue before or during the behavior. Adding the cue to the trick can be a bit tricky itself. You need to be able to observe your dog and anticipate their behavior.
Shaping is a wonderful way to teach more complicated tricks such as rollover or play dead, and a great way to bond with your Havanese! You will both learn to communicate so much better.